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Banks being dinged for city clearing high weeds

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POSTED April 6, 2009 4:41 a.m.
There was a time when stubborn landowners who owned vacant lots had weeds abated by the city at taxpayer expense and then have a lien placed against their property to recoup the money.

Now the main culprits are mortgage firms and banks.

The Manteca City Council on Tuesday is scheduled to direct staff to place liens against eight different parcels to recoup the cost of the city hiring private firms to abate weeds and debris in yards that are a gross violation of the city’s anti-blight and anti-weed ordinance.

Federal National Mortgage, Wells Fargo Bank and Residential Capital Mortgage account for nearly $1,300 of the property abatement bills. Altogether, the weed abatement process has resulted in nearly $3,000 worth of work being hired out by the city when property owners failed to respond to numerous notices to do the work.

The lien must be paid before the property can exchange hands.

Banks in mid-2008 started taking care of many of their properties that came back to them in foreclosure. Even so, many financial institutions have been overwhelmed trying to keep property up.

Manteca has in placed one of the toughest anti-blight ordinances dealing with abandoned or vacant properties in the country. So far, those property owners that have been contacted under the ordinance have complied such as the owners of the Long John Silver building at Louise and Main who painted plywood over windows to match the exterior walls as well as removed dead landscaping.
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